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Twenty-two Promise Zones were selected through three rounds of national competition. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), oversees 14 urban Promise Zones, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees 8 rural and tribal Promise Zones. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tasked HUD and USDA to lead the Promise Zone initiative and play essential roles in gathering information about progress in Promise Zones through regular reporting exercises. The Office of Field Policy and Management (OFPM) represents HUD in this role.

This report assessed OFPM’s plans for overseeing the Promise Zones as well as the 11 HUD grant programs participating in the Promise Zone initiative. Zelos identified areas in which OFPM could take steps to develop an evaluation plan and work more closely with program offices participating in the initiative. Specifically, Zelos noted the following: 

  • Selecting Promise Zone communities and making the program operational at Federal and community levels was HUD’s focus for the past 3 years. HUD implemented Promise Zone designation agreements, which included data reporting requirements, in the latter part of 2016 but has not yet developed an evaluation plan for the initiative.
  • OFPM has been tracking the 11 participating HUD grant programs but does not currently have a plan to assess the programs’ participation or contributions to Promise Zones. In addition, the grant program offices have not entered grantee or funding information to comply with OMB requirements, which could provide information for evaluation.
  • Limited resources could make it difficult for OFPM to evaluate the Promise Zone initiative itself or the contributions and impact of HUD’s participating grant programs on the urban Promise Zone communities for which it has responsibility.

We recommend that the Director for the Office of Field Policy and Management:

  • Complete all steps necessary for an effective evaluation effort.
  • Work with grant program offices to overcome reporting challenges.
  • Ensure that grant program offices report OMB-requested data.
  • Learn from and leverage results of participating grant programs.
  • Work with HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research on an evaluation approach and design for the Promise Zone initiative.
  • Ensure that OFPM has the appropriate resources for its new Communications and Data Analysis Division.